President Barack Obama and groundbreaking ballerina Misty Copeland sat down for an in-depth interview with TIME on topics that range from demolishing barriers within their respective fields as people of color, and how the strides in their day-to-day jobs have impacted youths of color.
“When I think about the journey I’ve traveled, there’s no doubt that young African-American, Latino, Asian, LGBT youth, they have more role models,” Obama shares. “Folks that they can immediately identify with. But what we also have to remember is that the barriers that exist for them to pursue their dreams are deep and structural.”
The leader of the free world continued to state that he hopes young men of color will be inspired by his achievements to “aspire to be president, or a senator or a community organizer, but if they are in neighborhoods where even if I’m on television, there are no men in their neighborhoods who’ve got jobs that are able to support a family, then you’ve still got problems.”
Copeland also touched on her experience within the American Ballet Theater as the first black principal dancer, revealing that she fought since the beginning of her journey to not “pancake my skin a lighter color to fit into the court of ballet. I didn’t want to have to wear makeup that made my nose look thinner.”
She later added that being African-American in a predominately white arena like ballet “has definitely been a huge obstacle for me, but it’s also allowed me to have this fire inside of me that I don’t know I would have or have had if I weren’t within this field.”
Dive into their entire conversation here.